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“That’s not true!” Adams pleaded.

Hurley stepped forward and extended the big .45 caliber pistol. “Any last words before I blow your head off.”

With tear-filled eyes, Adams shook his head and cried, “You can’t do this, Uncle Stan. You and my father were best friends.”

“I can, and I will.”

“But my father?”

“You were a disgrace to your father,” Hurley growled. “You broke his heart.”

“But . . . I didn’t know,” Adams pleaded, tears now rolling down his cheeks.

“You didn’t know because you’re a narcissistic fuck. The only person you’ve ever cared about is yourself.”

“That’s not true,” Adams half yelled. “I have sacrificed. I have done what I thought was right.”

“Well, you were wrong.” Hurley placed the muzzle of the pistol against Adams’s forehead and squeezed the trigger.


THE report of the big .45 Kimber was deafening. Rapp didn’t have time to cover his ears. He’d barely had enough time to grab Hurley’s wrist and deflect the shot. Just barely, as was evidenced by the red powder burn that was now painted in a cone shape across the top of Adams’s forehead. The slug was now lodged in the concrete wall beyond Adams’s head. A crater the size of a fist marked the spot.

Rapp couldn’t hear a thing but he could see just fine. Hurley was screaming at him and Adams was sobbing—his eyes closed, his head down, his chin bouncing off his chest every few seconds as he gasped for air, snot pouring out of his nose. Hurley pointed his Kimber at Rapp and began to use it to punctuate whatever point he was trying to make. Rapp, none too fond of having a gun pointed at him, almost snapped the older man’s wrist, but caught himself in time. He slowly brought his hand up and gently moved the muzzle of the gun to a less threatening direction.

After pointing at his left ear, Rapp mouthed that he couldn’t hear what Hurley was saying. He walked over to the door and gestured for Hurley to follow him. Rapp hit the intercom button and asked for the door to be opened. As he stepped into the outer room, he found Nash, Lewis, and Maslick all standing there with shocked expressions on their faces. Rapp placed both palms over his ears and pressed down for a good five seconds while he swallowed several times and flexed his jaw. The first words he began to recognize belonged to Hurley. He was still cursing up a storm.

Rapp looked at him still waving his gun around and yelled, “Put that damn thing away before you shoot someone.”

Hurley pointed the gun at Rapp again and barked, “Someone! You’re the only one I’m thinking about shooting!”

Rapp’s entire posture was instantly transformed. Like a big black panther who had been stirred from a lazy nap, his muscles flexed and his weight was transferred onto the balls of his feet. His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed and he half shouted, “Stan, put that gun away right now, or I’ll break your wrist.”

Hurley, having trained Rapp, knew not only that he meant it, but that there was a good chance that at this close distance, Rapp could do it before he got off a shot. Slowly, and with a not-too-happy look, he shouldered his pistol and asked, “Why in the hell did you stop me?”

The answer was complicated, although there was one really good reason and several decent ones. Rapp decided to go with the big one— the one they all should have thought of to begin with. “Where in the hell is he getting his information?”

“We’ve already gone over that,” Hurley said in an irritated voice. “He’s filling in the gaps. If he had anything real, he would have taken it to the Justice Department.”

Rapp shook his head. “He still had to start somewhere. Someone is talking to him.”

“He’s the Gestapo. We’ve already found dozens of bugs. He has half the offices on the seventh floor wired.”

The inspector general’s office at Langley was often called the Gestapo by the front-line troops at Langley. This was exactly what Rapp had feared—that they would let their dislike of Adams cloud their judgment. He took a deep breath and asked, “What’s our rush?”

“You know as well as I do, you can’t let shit like this fester. The best can lose their courage, and besides, we have bigger fish to fry.”

“And we also have one shot at finding out what he knows.”

“We’ve gone over this,” Hurley snarled. “We have what we need. We kill him and whoever he was talking to won’t know if he’s dead or if he’s disappeared. Either way the effect is the same. We send a clear signal that we’re done fucking around.”

“By we,” Nash jumped in, “I assume you mean the royal we, because no one knows you’re involved in this. Mitch and I are the two guys with the targets on our backs.”

“Why you little . . .” Hurley reached for his gun.

Rapp stepped forward and grabbed Hurley’s wrist. He looked at Nash and his bloodshot, tired eyes and instantly knew he was strung out. Hell, they were all strung out. Sleep was a luxury they had experienced far too little of in the past week. “Head up to the house,” Rapp said to Nash, “and get cleaned up. We need to be on the road in less than thirty minutes.”

“But, I don’t—”